A so-so mix of suspense and 1950s-rock-'n'-roll nostalgia gets underway when narrator Frank Ridgeway, a married, 37-year-old...



A so-so mix of suspense and 1950s-rock-'n'-roll nostalgia gets underway when narrator Frank Ridgeway, a married, 37-year-old New Jersey teacher, hears a song called ""Far-Away Woman"" on a supermarket radio: Frank wrote the words to that song 20 years ago, when (after dropping out of Kenyon College) he spent a year with Eddie Wilson and the Parkway Cruisers! So Frank, who hasn't touched music since group-leader Eddie was killed in a car crash way back when, is now flooded with ambivalent feelings and memories--especially when a smarmy freelance writer shows up to interview him and fill him in on the big Eddie Wilson revival that's going on. Then Eddie's old agent (now a decrepit disc jockey) gets in touch, hoping to cash in on the revival by finding some missing, legendary Eddie tapes. And soon Frank is on the road--remembering the old days in flashbacks, looking for those tapes (which are also being sought, apparently, by a ruthless killer), and hunting down the members of the old band: Sal Amato, who's still performing, using the Eddie Wilson name and the old songs; Ken Hopkins, now a born-again preacher; and black sax-man Wendell, now shuttling between prisons and asylums. None of them has the lowdown on those tapes, but then Frank locates Eddie's girl Joanna (whom he has always lusted after), who seems to know all. And after some red herrings (Frank thinks he sees Eddie alive), dead bodies, and a showdown with the killer in Florida, Frank and Joanna are together at last. (The tapes turn out to be blank, except for some lines of Walt Whitman, whose poetry was a sort of bond between college-boy Frank and moody, sometimes-cruel Eddie.) A cheesy, sentimental fabrication--with limp plotting in the thriller department and even sketchier treatment of Frank's quasi-identity crisis (his wife and kids are barely outlined). But the narration is mostly smooth and easy; the small-time rock circuit is tattily atmospheric; and nostalgic Grease-ers may want to overlook Kluge's contrivances (and his vast oversimplifications of the business side of music) for the sake of some rosy, doo-wap, early-rock memories.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 1980

ISBN: 1590200942

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1980

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